Noor Jahan, a Lighting a Billion Lives Village Level Entrepreneur, lauded by the Hon'ble Prime Minister of India

December 2015

For Noor Jahan, this is a moment of a lifetime, and as an enabler in her journey to the recognition and success she has achieved today, Lighting a Billion Lives is not only proud but also thankful for the focus that Hon'ble Prime Minister Narendra Modi has brought to village level entrepreneurs like her.

As a global campaign working to address the basic energy needs for lighting and cooking in energy poor homes, Lighting a Billion Lives is well acquainted with the gaps in energy provisioning that force the energy poor to resort to polluting, unsafe and more expensive sources of energy. Since its inception in 2008, the Campaign has focused on the provision of clean energy technologies that are relevant and customized to end user preferences, usage behavior and affordability. It partners with several stakeholders to facilitate energy access, including technology manufacturers, financial institutions, micro enterprises, grass root partners, government bodies, corporations and other global and national institutions.

Lighting a Billion Lives also focuses on developing gender inclusive energy provisioning processes, and trains and encourages women to become active participants in the delivery of clean energy as entrepreneurs, service providers and promotion agents.

In Kanpur Dehat, Lighting a Billion Lives works with its partner organisation Shramik Bharti, to facilitate the last mile distribution and serviceability of clean lighting and cooking technologies through self-help group networks. The key focus here was to facilitate energy access through livelihood generation and identify SHG members who were significantly more disadvantaged than others in the group, to become VLEs. This included women who were physically or visually challenged, widowed, or otherwise economically very weak with large families to support.

In 2012, under a project sponsored by Indus Towers, Noor Jahan, a 70 year old widow was identified and trained to take on the operation and management of a solar charging station (SCS), and it is indeed gratifying to see her progress being recognized by the Hon'ble Prime Minister himself.

Noor Jahan's story is a testimony to the success of micro energy entrepreneurs across India, who as agents of last mile energy access offer a viable, sustainable and much needed local solution to a global problem.

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